One-hit-wonder Norma Tanega is known only for “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” her soulful, folky quasi-novelty song of 1966 that reached #22 in the pop charts early that year. The whimsical song’s easy-going charm, catchy chorus and vocal harmonies are irresistible, but Tanega, who has recorded several albums worth of worthy material since, was never able to follow it up with another hit record.
Tanega was discovered while singing as a summer camp counselor in the Catskill Mountains and signed to a contact with famed songwriter/producer Bob Crewe (the Four Seasons, “Lady Marmalade,’ “Music to Watch Girls By,” the Barbarella soundtrack, etc), and his record label New Voice. “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” was her first single and in the wake of its success, she moved to England—at the encouragement of her girlfriend Dusty Springfield who she’d met on the set of Top of the Pops—for five years, recording an album for RCA and working as a professional songwriter. After returning to the United States, she became a percussionist, often playing ceramic instruments and taught art in Southern California. (I noticed several YouTube commenters mentioning that they’d been students of Tanega’s and writing fondly of her.)
The Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog album is pretty easy to find when you are trawling through the stacks at a used record store, usually for super cheap. The next time you see it, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Performing “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” on (I think) ‘Top of the Pops.” Dig her cool Gibson SG Standard guitar.
More Norma Tanega after the jump…